By Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli is perhaps the most misunderstood historical character in European history. Considered by those knowing little about him to be an apostle of evil, he was in fact a brilliant historian, diplomat, poet, politician and playwright, responsible for the founding of commedia dell’arte as well as modern political science. Machiavelli’s Clizia was adapted from a fourth century BC Greek comedy, Latinized by Plautus in Rome a century later, and finally Italianized by Machiavelli in 1525, where its characters – the woman-chasing old man and his doctor friend – proved forebears of the commedia’s Pantalone and Il Dottore. This translation, which has been staged at the Hayworth Theatre in Los Angeles and at the University of Maine, is modernized into American English, but is set in Machiavelli’s beloved Florence during the Italian Renaissance.
“This compact five-act piece leaps off the page with wit, verve, and really funny moments. It presents Machiavelli’s early Commedia dell’Arte as it is was surely intended: replete with lively songs, direct addresses to the audience, ridiculous twists of fate, and those requisite bawdy situations. Actors will enjoy the challenges of presenting this set of ridiculous stock commedia characters. Directors will revel in the nonstop action, and the rich comedic opportunities for theatrical staging. From start to finish, Cohen is true to the form of Commedia and, at the same time, sensitive to the needs of a contemporary audience. This piece is tons of fun to read . . . and screams out to be staged.”
-Eli Simon, Chancellor’s Professor of Drama, UC Irvine, and the Founding Artistic Director of the New Swan Shakespeare Festival
“Professor Cohen’s rendering of Machiavelli’s Clizia is an erudite and informed translation, one that is both correct, fluent and idiomatic, and furnished with a first-rate introduction. Most important, Cohen wrote it to be performed. His is a first-rate piece of work which will delight Renaissance scholar, director and modern theater-goer.”
-James Chiampi, Professor of Italian, University of California, Irvine
“Robert Cohen delivers what he promises with his translation of Machiavelli’s Clizia. It is not a line-by-line transposition from one language to another, but a successful attempt to capture the visual, melodic, and theatrical universe in which Machiavelli’s characters make dramaturgical sense. As translated by Cohen, it is indeed a lively, actable performance piece; its lines bubbling on the page with the dynamism that Machiavelli intended, and holding a rightful place in the Commedia dell’Arte canon, with its colorful backdrop of Firenze and the archetypal characters reminiscent of Pantalone, il Dottore, gli Innamorati, and gli Zanni. The stage directions added to this translation can also be read as a canovaccio, or a canvas–a door into a lazzo or two. And the bold choice of contemporary colloquialism brings a final stylistic unity and functions as a bridge between tradition and today’s sensibilities.”
–Roberto Prestigiacomo, Professor of Human Communication and Theatre – Trinity University; Producing Artistic Director of AtticRep, San Antonio